Moderate-turned-militant with Kalashnikov at his bedside

As a student, teachers said he showed no signs of Islamic militancy. Now Pakistani cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi sleeps with a Kalashnikov by his bed and has vowed to die in his besieged mosque.

Ghazi’s early schooling was at a boys-only Islamic seminary but he never opted for the madrassa lifestyle until the murder of his father in 1998 turned his life upside down.

“He was a normal, moderate student who was well adjusted to a co-educational system,” Naim Qureshi, Ghazi’s teacher at the history department of Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, told AFP.

Ghazi did his Masters in History in 1987-88, and a photo of him and his colleagues still hangs on the department’s wall.

“In studies he was okay but I don’t remember his grades. I remember that he had a normal beard,” he said, comparing it with the bushy, grey, Islamist-style beard that Ghazi now sports.

His teacher said there was little sign of militancy back then. “People do change their lifestyle, after all it’s 20 years on now, but it did surprise me,” Qureshi said.

Ghazi later married into a moderate family and lived a relatively westernised life. He worked with UNESCO. “Ghazi used to share jokes, often spoke in English, moved in mixed company and was an active student,” said a university friend who asked not to be named.

His father, Maulana Abdullah, who headed the mosque, was so angry at his lifestyle that he handed over his property to his brother. But Ghazi was not unhappy, the friend said.

However, he completely changed after a lone gunman shot his father dead inside the mosque. Ghazi joined his brother, who took over the mosque in 1998 and nominated him as his deputy.

Security sources said he had close links with pro-Taliban militants and agitated against President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to back the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Colleagues said that in 2004 he survived an attempt on his life and since then had always carried a Kalashinkov with him. “You always find an AK-47 in his car, with him in the madrassa and even at his bedside,” one colleague said.


4 Comments so far

  1. a k raz (unregistered) on July 8th, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

    A letter to GEO NEWS (or whoever is listening)

    mohtram editor sahab,

    islamabad mein waqoo pazeer honein walay halaat sabhee pakistanion kay leyae baisay paraishaneen hein. mein yeh e-mail aap logon ko iss leyae likh raha hoon kay aap logon ki coverage baqi sabhee sey qadray behtar thee or donon janib say moaqif sunein ko mila. aap ka channel hee maulan ghazi say barah-e-raast guftagoo karnein or ussay nashar karnein mein kamyab huwa. shayad kissi aur nein bhee kiya ho magar mujhay uss ki khabar naheen.

    in tamam batoun kay bawajood mujhay aap logon say gila hay kay jub aap logon ko maulana ghazi say baat karnein ka mauqa mila tou aap kay interviewer chand bunyadi sawal karnein bhool gayae… yaa unn ko jaan boojh kar pas-e-pusht rakh diya. mere woh sawal mundarja zeil hein aur shayad har pakistani in kay jawab chahta hai.

    1. Lal musjid ki intazamia ko kiss nein ijazat dee kay woh moashray pay dhons jamaiy or zabardastee apnee munn mani karay. in harqaton mein logon ka aghwa, logon ki mar pitayee, aam logon ki imlak ko nuqsan aur deegar aisay iqdam hein jo sarasar ghair qanooni hein aur yeh rawayah qanoon ki baldasti say inqar ka aur baghiyana hay.

    2. Lal masjid aur jamia hafsa aik taleemi aur mazhabi idara hai. in logon kay pass klashinkov, machine guns, grenade hatta kay mines maujood hein. in logon ka iss aslahay say kaya ta-aluq. yeh aslaha rakhnein ka aik hee matlab hay kay woh issay isstamaal bhee kar saktay hein. iss aslahay ko isstamaal karnein kay leyae inhein yeh aslaha chalana bhee aana chaheeyae, jiss kay leyae inhein baqaida training ki zaroorat darkar hai. inn sabhee batoun ko maday nazar rakha jayae tou yeh baat samajh mein aati hai kay lal masjid ki intezamia nein soch samajh kar aik militant approach ko ikhtiar kiya hai, jo aik taleemi idaray aur khas taur pur aik mazhabi taleemi idaray ko sheva naheen deyta.

    3. lal masjid aik mazhabi taleemi idara hai jo shayad talib-e-ilmon ki feeson, donations ya kuch na ma-aloom funds kay zariyae chalaya ja raha hai. sawal yeh hai kai in kay pass klashinkov, machine guns aur deegar aslaha khareedanein kay leyae paisa kahan say aya. lal masjid ki intazamia kay mutabiq yeh log feeson aur chanday say iss idaray ko chala rahey hein. agar aisa hai to kaya in logon ko zaib dayta hai kay yeh uss raqam say kitabein aur behtar alaat-e-taaleem kay bajai hathiar khareedein. aur na sirf yeh kay hathiar kharidein balkay unn ka issteymaal hakoomat kay khilaf karein aur girdo nawah mein rehnein walay logon ki zindagi azaab banayein.

    4. Maulana ghazi nein aap kay numainday ko interview detay waqt kaha tha kay hum bey-qasoor hein aur hakoomat hum pur zulm kar rahee hai. hum nein koi mahaz arai naheen ki bulkay hakoomat hamein ishtial dila rahee hai. yeh aap bhee jantay hein kay pahli martaba iss hakoomat nein kissi ko itni dheel dee hai kay bar ha qanoon ko apnein hathoun mein lainein bawajood lal masjid ko sirf warnings dee gayeen aur baray tahammul say samjhaya gaya kay apni in harkaton say baz aa jayein, laikin unhon nein sabhee batoun ko bhool kar apni rawish naheen badlee aur apnee hassil karda taaleem aur tarbeyat kay mutabiq balwa kiya, hatta kay ministry of environment ki imarat ko aag laga dee or ihatay mein maujood garion aur deegar imlak ko nazr-e-aatish kar diya. ubb aap hi mujhaya batayea kay aya yeh wahee log hein jin gay baray mein maulana ghazi sahab ka kehna hai kay yeh bachay masoom hein in ka seena quran aur hadees kay ilm say munawar hai……mein naheen janta kay unn ka seena quran aur hadees say munawar hai ya naheen magar itna zaroor kahoon ga kay SHAOOR unn kay dimagh mein makeen naheen hai.
    mein akhir mein unn waldein say appeal karna chahta hoon jin kay bachay iss idaray say wabasta hein, kay ba-rahe-meharbani apnein bachon kay behtar mustaqbil kay leyae apnein bachon ko kissi aisay idaray mein parhayea jo waqai unn ko sahee mazhabi taaleem dey na kay unn kay haat mein islaha pakra dey aur unn ko shahadat kay jhotay khwab dhika kar hakoomat key khilaf bharkai, jiss kay nateejay mein wo mulk ka bhee nuqsan karien aur uss ki bain-ul-aqwami sataeh pur badnami karein bulkay apni jaan say bhee jayein.
    umeed karta hoon


    a k raz

  2. Phil (unregistered) on July 8th, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

    Sits perfectly under then ‘angry-young-loner’ stereotype, especially after the death of his father.

    Death of any family member is indeed a heavy blow to anyone. But I guess his working for UNESCO made him feel some sort of a complex… one way or the other.

  3. FaKeeRa (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 6:33 pm

    sorry for not mentioning the source before. I forgot to add that. well, both the articles are from The News, I tried to get to the actual link was not able to revive it from there, So I put the main link. and once again Sorry for not mentioning it before.

  4. exciton (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 5:48 am

    There must be a lot more to what has been presented in the NEWS. I do not think the “angry-loaner” characterization fits the profile. Since the indications are that he was not a loaner.

    Death (murder) of his father can certainly be a traumatic event, but it is not clear if he is misdirecting that unresolved anger towards the Government.

    I would argue that the awesome power and influence that gets passed on as member of the religious clergy in our society is part of the problem.

    The power to influence and mold the innocent minds through the power of (distorted) Word of Allah(SWT) and the Prophet (SAW) is an extremely potent force. This power is bound to have “corrupting” consequences.

    On top of it, this power is sustained by restricting question, creativity, and expression.

    The fact that these people were really eyeing ownership of prime real-estate is not something that most people realize. At the end of the day, ostensibly the most altruistic goals of implementation of Shariah were really based in age old vices of greed and lust for power.

    As has been the case in many such scenarios before, the problem is that in their lust for power and greed most people never realize their true limits.

    The Ghazi brothers too succumbed to the unfortunate lust of power and greed, rooted in their arrogantly self-righteous vanity.

    They will spin their every action as a Will of Allah (SWT) — Nauzubillah! And we mere mortals cannot do anything about it!

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